Resource Spotlight: Fair Food Network


This month we’re featuring the Fair Food Network as a resource spotlight. You may remember Jean Chorazyczewski who served as a mentor for the spring 2018 mentorship cohort. We were excited to catch up with her and hear about the good work going on at the Fair Food Network!

 

Who are we “speaking” with and what’s your role?

I’m Jean Chorazyczewski, Program Director at Fair Food Network.

We’re a national nonprofit whose mission is to grow community health and wealth through food. From our signature program, Double Up Food Bucks, which serves as a national model for healthy food incentives, to our impact investing work supporting food entrepreneurs, we are tapping into the potential of food to improve health, ignite local economies, and open opportunities for all — especially in our most underserved communities.

My role is the architect of our business assistance work: how do we design and deploy business assistance in ways that meets entrepreneurs where they are and takes them where they want to go.

Domain/Subject Area:

My personal subject matter expertise includes providing resources and technical assistance to food entrepreneurs. Some specific areas I provide help to business owners include:

· Business Planning (customer value proposition, competitive analysis, market assessment, etc.)

· Food Entrepreneur Business Assistance

· Operations Management

· Stakeholder Management

· Business Development

· Process Development

· Program Design / Project Management

· Team Leadership / Collaboration

· Visual Design

· Web Development

 

Mission: Fair Food Network mission is to grow community health and wealth through food.

Okay now for the fun stuff…

1. How would you describe the Fair Food Network? But there’s a catch… describe Fair Food Network in a haiku!

At Fair Food Network,
we are growing health and wealth

through good food for all

2. What does the Fair Food Network bring to the (national food systems) table?
We believe that one of the most powerful ways we can create lasting change is through something essential to life itself: food.

Fair Food Network’s signature program, Double Up Food Bucks, serves as a national model for healthy food incentives. Double Up doubles the buying power of SNAP recipients, helping underserved families bring home more fruits and vegetables while boosting business for local farmers. What started nearly a decade ago as a collaboration with five Detroit markets has grown into a national model for SNAP incentive programs in more than 25 states and counting.

In addition, Fair Food Network also supports food entrepreneurs who are harnessing the power of food to grow community health and wealth. In 2013, we launched an impact investing arm called the Fair Food Fund, which provides financing and business assistance food entrepreneurs. In our home state, we’re are also a founding partner of the Michigan Good Food Fund, a $30 million public-private partnership loan fund that provides financing to good food enterprises working to increase access to affordable, healthy food in low-income and underserved communities in Michigan. Fair Food Fund has invested more than $3 million in more than 70 businesses across eight states, benefitting more than 1,000 farms. These investments have in turn created more than 100 jobs and generated over $24 million in purchasing from farmers and other local suppliers. Through both financing projects, we’re demonstrating how investing in food entrepreneurs is a powerful way to generate outsized social impact: increased healthy food access, support for American farmers, strengthened local economies, and more opportunities for more people in more places.

3. Who does Fair Food Network serve?
We’re about finding solutions that simultaneously benefit families, farmers, and local businesses and economies. There should not be a question of whether we support hungry families or local farmers—we can do both. We need solutions that deliver access and equity for both farmers and consumers. We’re also committed to bringing an inclusive lens to all we do.

For example, both the Michigan Good Food Fund and Fair Food Fund aim to fuel the success of businesses that have been traditionally underserved, including those owned by women and entrepreneurs of color.

4. What do people/orgs look to you for?
Fair Food Network developed the Double Up Food Bucks program, a pioneering national model for healthy food incentives, active in 25 states and growing. Double Up’s track record of positive and proven impact for families and farmers in communities across the nation helped make federal support for incentives a permanent part of future farm bills. Communities across the U.S. seek Fair Food Network’s consultation and technical assistance when initiating or improving their healthy incentives programs.  Fair Food Network’s Double Up program model is a win-win-win: more healthy food for families, better business for farmers, and a boost for local economies.

In addition, Fair Food Network has been a leader and resource for the field in designing and delivering technical assistance for food entrepreneurs. Often, food entrepreneurs – from growers to food processors to restaurant owners – seek Fair Food Network’s financing and business assistance through its Fair Food Fund and its partnership in the Michigan Good Food Fund.

5. What one (or two!) problem(s) can someone find solutions for on your site?
Fairfoodnetwork.org provides information about our programs, including Double Up Food Bucks, Michigan Good Food Fund, and Fair Food Fund and their impact. We have a new 5-year report about our work in impact investing. Over the years, we’ve also contributed a variety of research on SNAP incentives including their impact on health outcomes and local economic development.

6. Are there certain tools or resources that you’ve found especially popular?

Fair Food Network has found that comprehensive business assistance is very important to provide a touchpoint to food entrepreneurs at any stage of their business. Business assistance helps address barriers for entrepreneurs and find pathways to success. Whether it’s a local farmer seeking to connect with a food hub or a small business owner seeking to package their goods for the first time, having the necessary tools and resources to take the next step are critical. Fair Food Network offers a variety of financing and business assistance offerings – from one-on-one consultations to learn about packaging design to two-week workshops to ensure businesses have a sound business pitch.
7. Who can access your resources? How?
Fellow practitioners can partner with Fair Food Network to collaborate and share best practices for work in the food systems field. SNAP recipients can sign up for Double Up Food Bucks at participating farmers markets and grocery stores in communities across Michigan. Good food businesses can contact the Michigan Good Food Fund or Fair Food Fund to learn about financing, grants, and technical assistance.

8. What other resources or support is Fair Food Network looking for?
For our food business assistance work, Fair Food Network is on the lookout for industry-specific, subject matter experts who can join our network of consultants to provide targeted services for the enterprises we serve in grocery retail, specialty food production, and food service, such as restaurants, mobile trucks, and catering.

9. What other “resource-full” organizations would you recommend?
The Food Finance Institute’s Edible-Alpha® is a digital resource hub providing people with actionable insights, training, resources and tools so they can build and fund the next generation of profitable food, beverage, and value-added farm businesses.  

10. How can someone get in touch with you for more information?

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